Vromans Nose

About Middleburgh (continued)

St. Mark's Lutheran ChurchIn 1813 a covered toll bridge was built to replace an older bridge in the general area where today’s bridge is. Twelve years later, the Freemyer House was constructed which was the largest hotel in Middleburgh. It is better known later as the Hotel Baker after later owners in the 1890’s. This was where the current Middleburgh Public Library is today. The area from the Freemyer House to the Tollhouse of the bridge became full of stores and businesses. Some of the buildings are still there today making it the oldest part of the current village business district. On the other side of the bridge entrance where there is a park today were 3 or 4 other business buildings. This area was known as “the Dock” because it looked like one. Across the street from the Dock was the Atchinson House or White House Hotel, which was slightly smaller than the Freemyer House. Today the Red Barrel occupies that site. On the same side of the street, a Lutheran Church was built in 1825. A large fire destroyed the Church along with several buildings on the area between Sheldon Avenue and Main Street on April 1, 1855.

Middleburgh TodayDuring the latter half of the business district of the Village of Middleburgh took on the appearance that is recognizable today. With the beginning of the M&S Railroad in 1866, Businesses sprung up around the railroad yard and down Railroad Avenue. By 1870 The Lutheran Church had been rebuilt. In 1881 the Village of Middleburgh was incorporated. The First National Bank, today the Village Hall, and Union Free High School were built during the 1880’s indicating development on that side of the street during this period. In 1886 the most devastating fire in Middleburgh’s history occurred. Several business and residences are burned on Main Street and Railroad Avenue. The village recovered quickly and with the completion of the Watson Block(1897) and Bauer Block(1901) most of the modern Business District was complete. By the Bicentennial of the first settlement in 1912, the Village was a bustling place. Two passenger trains and one freight train left each day. Business included were four hotels, four millinery stores, three livery stables, five blacksmith’s shops, three general stores, two ice cream parlors, two bakeries, two hardware stores, three drug stores, two furniture stores, two jewelry stores, a funeral parlor, a bank, and several saloons. Professional people were five lawyers, five doctors, four barbers, and a dentist. Two locally owned utilities, M&S Power and Light and The Middleburgh Telephone Company served the vicinity. Shortly after the dirt streets of the village were paved.

Middleburgh VillageChanging Times

As the United States increasingly shifted from a rural agrarian nation to the modern urban/suburban society, Middleburgh like most upstate New York towns and villages felt the effects. Also changes in technology were forcing changes to Main Street itself. The 1920’s and 30’s were a period on intensive road building of the highways leading in and out of Middleburgh for the new automobiles. The buildings of “the Dock” were torn down and replaced by a gas station during the 1920’s. The old White House Hotel was razed and replaced by the Middleburgh Garage at about the same time. The Middleburgh Garage sold both automobiles and gas. It also housed a movie theater, which showed the first talking pictures in Schoharie County. In 1929 it was destroyed by fire and replaced by a restaurant and gas station. The Valley Theater was constructed in 1938. The railroad went out of business in 1936, partly due to competition with the new trucking industry. The Hotel Baker was destroyed by fire in February 1942. That site would also become a gas station. Middleburgh Central School was built in 1933 and a new Post Office opened in 1940. A new Bank and Grand Union Supermarket replaced the Lutheran Parsonage and Roland Bouck residences in 1962. With the local economy moving away from the traditional agriculture, many of the businesses that supported the local farming community disappeared. During the 1970’s and 1980’s Malls and chain stores dealt a severe blow to what remained of the traditional Main Street Business District.

A New Beginning

In the mid 1990’s, serious efforts were begun to revitalize downtown Middleburgh. A new public Library was constructed on the site of the old Hotel Baker. The Depression era River Street wall was reconstructed with Victorian lighting installed along the Schoharie Creek, the old Dock area and across the bridge. The Bridge itself has been rehabilitated with attractive side railings...There are current projects to construct a riverside park in the Dexter Avenue area and create a railroad exhibit centered around the old Depot. There are Main Street and Small cities grant/loan programs to rehabilitate building facades, create and improve apartments, and encourage and enable small businesses to use the old store fronts. The progress made so far is a first step into the future.